Free Technical Assistance for New Land Banks & Communities 

As the national expert and hub for land banks across the country, and building off our support over the last ten years in growing the national land bank movement to more than 250 land banks across more than 15 states, Community Progress is proud to announce a new initiative, in partnership with Arnold Ventures, that meets a critical need at a critical time.

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Program Overview

The Center for Community Progress is pleased to announce the Land Bank Incubator Scholarship Program, a new initiative to support local and state leaders who, in the face of emerging challenges to our communities and neighborhoods triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, seek to launch new land banks to help with equitable recovery efforts and to advance long-term goals of building healthy, inclusive, and resilient neighborhoods for all.

This initiative will offer scholarships to competitively selected applicants in the form of customized, high-impact technical assistance, which will be delivered at no cost by the team of national experts at Community Progress.

The three objectives of the Land Bank Incubator Scholarship Program are to:

  1. Expand the number of land banks in states that already have state enabling land bank legislation
  2. Help local and/or state partners design and adopt new state enabling land bank legislation where no state law currently exists
  3. Help local and/or state partners reform and optimize their state’s existing enabling land bank legislation

Any questions about the Land Bank Incubator Scholarship Program should be sent to tabdelazim@communityprogress.org.

A downloadable PDF of the Program Overview is available here.

This initiative is made possible by the generous support of Arnold Ventures.

Land banks are flexible, nimble public entities endowed with special powers by state legislation that can acquire, hold, and then steward large inventories of vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties to productive reuses that support equitable community development and improve neighborhood resiliency consistent with local priorities and needs. Land banks have proven critical community development tools in a range of geographies and under varying conditions, whether to help with recovery efforts in the wake of economic or national disasters or to support equitable development in neighborhoods that struggle under the weight of decades of chronic disinvestment and unjust policies.

Following the Great Recession, the national land bank field exploded, with more than a dozen states passing enabling legislation that allowed, to varying degrees and unique to each state, for the creation of local, county, and regional land banks. There are more than 200 land banks currently in operation across the country. While there are land banks operating in all regions across the country, approximately 75% of all land banks are located in just five states: Ohio, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.

Today, another national crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, is not only threatening public health, but also disrupting real estate markets, household security, and neighborhood vitality—and doing so with a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Over the next few years, it is expected that state and local leaders will again turn to land banks to help minimize the harms of vacant, distressed properties and to assist in an equitable recovery.

The disruptions caused by COVID-19 are not isolated to one corner of the country, thus there is a need for the national land bank movement to expand geographically. There is also a need to support and accelerate the evolution of the land bank movement, including the transition of these important public entities from playing a transactional role at the fringe of community development to playing a transformative role at the center of equitable development and community resiliency initiatives.

In the coming years, communities will have a number of urgent priorities when it comes to land use and housing issues: seeking to hold together neighborhoods and households hit hard by COVID-19; rethinking neighborhood investments through the lens of racial equity; acting on the promise of inclusive neighborhoods to ensure households of all incomes have access to quality, affordable housing and economic opportunities; and planning for resiliency in the face of climate change threats. Across all of these needs, land banks may be called on more than ever. The Land Bank Incubator Scholarship Program fills a critical need at a critical time.